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Stan Wawrinka defeats Novak Djokovic to win U.S. Open for third Grand Slam title

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 — Pointing to his temple after winning the biggest of points, Stan Wawrinka wore Novak Djokovic down and beat the defending champion 6-7 (1), 6-4, 7-5, 6-3 on Sunday for his first U.S. Open title and third Grand Slam trophy overall.

The 31-year-old Wawrinka is the oldest U.S. Open men’s champion since Ken Rosewall was 35 in 1970. Yet he already had gained the upper hand by the time No. 1 Djokovic clutched at his upper left leg and grimaced after missing a forehand while getting broken early in the fourth set. From there, Djokovic briefly began conceding points, showing little of the fight he’s so famous for.

Trailing 3-1 in the fourth set, Djokovic was granted the unusual chance to have a medical timeout at a time other than a changeover. He removed both shoes and socks so a trainer could help him out with what appeared to be blisters on toes.

Wawrinka complained to the chair umpire about the 6-minute break, and Djokovic looked over and apologized.

When they resumed, Djokovic earned three break points, but Wawrinka held for 4-1. That continued a pattern that carried throughout: Djokovic, as good a returner as there is in the game — now, certainly, and perhaps ever — managed to convert only 3 of 17 break chances.

Djokovic started limping later and received more toe treatment at the changeover before he served down 5-2 in the fourth.

Wawrinka has won only five of 24 career meetings against Djokovic, but has now beaten the 12-time major champion on the way to each of his own Grand Slam titles, including in the 2014 Australian Open quarterfinals and 2015 French Open final.

Before this matchup, Djokovic praised Wawrinka as “a big-match player,” and, boy, is he ever. Wasn’t always, though: Playing in the shadow of his far-more-accomplished Swiss countryman and good pal, Roger Federer, Wawrinka needed until his 35th appearance at a major, at age 28, just to get to the semifinals for the first time.

But look at Wawrinka now.

He has now won 11 tournament finals in a row.

He is 3-0 in Grand Slam finals, beating the No. 1-ranked player each time.

And he did it Sunday against Djokovic, whose French Open title in June completed a career Grand Slam and made him only the third man — and first in nearly a half-century — to win four consecutive major tournaments.

Earlier Sunday, Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the United States and Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic won the women’s doubles title for their third Grand Slam trophy as a pair. They beat the top-seeded French team of Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic 2-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4.

Mattek-Sands is the first American to win women’s doubles at Flushing Meadows since 2011, when Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond did it.

The final was played on the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and Mattek-Sands wore knee-high socks and a left wrist band with the same red-and-white-striped, star-spangled design she did while teaming with Jack Sock to win a gold medal in mixed doubles at the Rio Olympics last month.

“To have this result here has been amazing,” Mattek-Sands told the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd during the trophy ceremony, her eyes welling with tears and her voice choking on her words. “It’s a special day today here for everybody in New York.”

No. 1 seed Angelique Kerber gets upset in the first round of the French Open

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Angelique Kerber is the first women’s No. 1 seed to lose in the French Open’s first round in the Open era.

Kerber lost 6-2, 6-2 to the 40th-ranked Ekaterina Makarova of Russia.

Makarova broke Kerber’s serve twice in the opening set and did so again in the second, racing into a 3-0 lead.

Kerber appeared to get back into the match when she recovered one break but the German immediately dropped her serve again.

There was another rapid exchange of breaks before Makarova sealed the result on her first match point with a forehand down the line after recovering from 40-0 down.

Kerber now has just two wins from her past four tournaments.

French Open 2017: 30 is the new 25 in men’s tennis right now

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PARIS — The very top of men’s tennis has never been this old.

For the first time in the history of the ATP computer rankings, which date to the early 1970s, the men sitting at Nos. 1-5 are all 30 or older, the latest sign that the current crop of stars has enviable staying power.

It’s also the latest reason to wonder when a new face will emerge among the elite, because there eventually will come a point – yes, there really will – when the group that was once known as the Big 3, then came to be called the Big 4, and now is considered by some to be a Big 5, is no longer running the sport.

With the French Open starting Sunday, No. 1 Andy Murray, No. 2 Novak Djokovic, No. 3 Stan Wawrinka and No. 4 Rafael Nadal (No. 5 Roger Federer is skipping Paris) all have designs on another major trophy. But could someone such as Alexander Zverev, who just turned 20 last month, or the supremely talented – and supremely enigmatic – Nick Kyrgios, 22, or Dominic Thiem, 23, make a breakthrough for the up-and-coming kids?

“We’re probably coming to the end of one of the greatest eras of tennis that, certainly, I’ve ever seen,” ATP Executive Chairman and President Chris Kermode said, “and what we need to do as a sport is look to the next generation of players.”

Federer is 35, Wawrinka is 32, Nadal turns 31 on June 3, and Djokovic and Murray turned 30 this month. That quintet has won 46 of the last 48 Grand Slam titles, a dozen-year stretch of dominance.

Zverev’s victory over Djokovic in the Italian Open final last weekend might have symbolized coming change. Zverev was the first man born in the 1990s to win a Masters 1000 title, the youngest champ since Djokovic about a decade ago.

That title also pushed Zverev into the top 10, making him the youngest member since Juan Martin del Potro in 2008.

“It’s nice … for the tour, as well, to have a few younger guys, few younger girls, as well, to be able to play at the top,” said Zverev, who is German. “As I said many times, unfortunately for tennis and unfortunately for the spectators, the top four cannot play forever. So it’s good that younger players are starting to get through.”

So then the question becomes: Why has it taken so long?

Why does someone such as former player and coach Brad Gilbert, now an ESPN commentator, say, “Today’s 30 is like 25 used to be,” as he did this week? Why have these 30-somethings had such staying power? And why is it taking so long for newcomers to make a mark?

There is a similar situation in women’s tennis, where Serena Williams has kept winning Grand Slam titles into her 30s and is the oldest No. 1 in WTA history. Current No. 1 Angelique Kerber was the oldest woman to make her debut at that spot.

“Tennis has changed in the last 15 years … since they slowed down surfaces and there is not much difference in speeds of the surfaces,” said Patrick Mouratoglou, Williams’ coach. “You rarely have many easy shots now. You have to work the points much more, and one of the consequences is you need to be physically much better and able to play long rallies.”

He points out that when Wimbledon’s grass courts, for example, used to play much faster than they do now, a player could succeed there hitting aces by the dozen and going for one winner after another, because “you don’t need the same maturity and understanding of tactics” that are required today.

Gilbert points to Andre Agassi – a man he used to coach, and who is assisting Djokovic during this French Open – as an inspiration to the current old-timers still in charge.

“It used to be, you turned 30, you were completely on the downside of your career. A lot of these guys can remember Andre making a deep run at 2005 at 35 years old. I think that was the turning point in belief, that guys could play a lot longer,” Gilbert said. “You’re seeing Tom Brady be the best quarterback in all of football, maybe ever, and he’s approaching 40, which is dinosaur for a quarterback, but not anymore. Athletes are pushing the envelope all year round. There’s no offseason. Offseason is for more training, diet, technology.”